Sunday, 15 April 2012

On board, enfin

So now I'm in Arles, in Provence, and am settled into my home for the next week, the Uniworld river cruiser River Royale, in a suite with superfine sheets and Occitane toiletries and sliding doors that currently look out on a rusty bollard and a section of stone wall - but that's ok, it's a real pleasure for the moment just to be not moving. That view is guaranteed to improve tomorrow when we sail for Avignon.

Arles is a pretty place, with a Roman amphitheatre and arena and lots of narrow cobbled streets lined with three-storey terraced houses painted strong colours with contrasting shutters and lots of window boxes. It's also an untidy, littered place that could do with some maintenance - but, again, that's ok, I don't live here and can shrug all off that as what makes the town look lived-in and real. And all those peeling shutters do add to the picturesqueness, without a doubt.

The carnies are in town for the Easter fiesta and their very fancy campervans and wagons are parked beside the river (along with a row of spotted ponies), showing that clearly there's real money in candy floss these days; but we've been sternly warned over and over to be wary of the gypsies, that they're world-class pickpockets and mustn't be trusted. All very un-PC but no doubt that's experience talking. They're running a professional show on this boat: friendly and funny but very efficient; though the captain looks about 12 years old, alarmingly.

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